Mayday: JetBlue Flight Bombarded With System Failures After Barbados Takeoff

JetBlue flight 1844 from Barbados to Boston diverted back to Barbados last Tuesday after the Airbus A320 (registration N586JB) experienced “so many… [reported faults that pilots] were unable to tell what is going on with the airplane.”

They climbed to 4,000 feet after taking off from runway 9 and then declared a Mayday, advising that they “had so many lights they couldn’t tell what is going on amongst them [-] they had an engine generator failure light, the generator seemed to be working however and two more significant lights, they were unable to provide more information to ATC.”

The plane landed back in Barbados 17 minutes after departure. The flight was cancelled, and the aircraft spent 3 days on the ground before flying back to Boston on Friday and then beginning to operate with passengers on Saturday.

A JetBlue pilot reports that “[t]he aircraft had multiple spurious ECAMs after takeoff” or reports from the Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor but was “flying fine and there was nothing actually wrong with the aircraft.”

The [Flight Warning Computer] just went bezerk [sic]. I have access to the internal report on this, which is my source. The crew did an outstanding job of focusing on basic flying skills. They were able to analyze that the ECAMs were erroneous and then ignored them as best they could. I can only imagine how hard it was to land the plane with the master warning and caution both going off continuously.

At the same time, the flight crew did seem overwhelmed by the sheer volume of failures presented. Communication was hampered, though they did manage to operate the aircraft and get it back on the ground which was the clear priority.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I will *NEVER* fly Airbus aircraft again. Clearly, this is a manufacturing defect by Airbus. Between this and the Delta A220 fire at Seattle, these aircraft must be grounded! Where is the FAA???

    Seriously, it sounds like a super-stressful, time for the pilots and kudos for flying the airplane!

  2. With all the software issues and pilot unawareness of the very complex programming issues with airbus, why does everyone pick on Boeing (and they certainly have had their issues as well) and give Airbus a free pass.
    Do we just like to hate USA corporations?

  3. Long time A320 pilot here – I’ve had this same type of issue at cruise altitude before, and while alarming (literally and figuratively), we quickly realized that the Flight Warning Computer (FWC) was faulty as it was advising us of conditions associated with a number of major systems that were all operating within normal parameters. Just like in this recent case, the aircraft was flying fine with no apparent control issues, and after conferring with our company, we elected to continue to destination. These Jetblue pilots did a nice job focusing on the fundamentals of flying and doing their best to tune out the noise. I don’t blame them for returning to the airport since they were at a low altitude in the Caribbean (I was over the continental US when I experienced my FWC “going bezerk”). Nothing to see here, so let’s not panic and create more unwarranted histeria.

  4. There’s a lot of detail missing here and a lot more going on with this incident than what was reported. When was the aircraft delivered (I.e., Is it a recent delivery)? How long had it been in operation with JetBlue? What other factors were involved?
    I’m looking forward to the investigation report.

  5. I’m sure that a lot of people will give Airbus a pass and say that this is a JetBlue problem while side bashing Boeing. It was a great job from the flight crew.

  6. 2 Pilots on every aircraft for now and forever..that is all I can say. For those of you bashing Airbus… enjoy Boeing! for those of you bashing B6.. Enjoy all the other airlines..all have had crap happen very recently. This stuff always has and always will happen. We are in the instant information age so it makes it seem like its more often. One thing has been consistent in the last 15 years here in the USA. Flight crews have worked through and solved all scenarios…all airlines..every time. e

  7. All in all it must have been a terrifying experience, for not only the pilots, the crew, passengers and ATC. I have been a JetBlue MOSIAC “member” for years and have never had to experience ANYTHING similar OR even close to that. As far as I know. USUALLY, but not the norm, I have had wonderful crew members and HOPEFULLY when and IF I fly JetBlue again that would be my experience. That is a different story for maybe a later article. I think the article was VERY well written and informative for travelers with just enough knowledge of airline mechanics to NOT be overwhelmed and/or frightened to fly JetBlue or any other airline! IF one is going to criticize the author then maybe you should take up journalism yourself!!

  8. As someone said previously, we’re now in the “instant age ” where everything is in the public domain. I am sure there have previously several issues with aircraft that have not been reported.

  9. Had a similar thing happen to me (12,000 hrs A-320) Shortly after takeoff, got numerous ECAM warnings that were not backed up by real data. Very noisy, cancelled each notification only to have another pop up. Got maintenance control on the radio and they directed a reset of the FCU. Pulled and reset the circuit breaker for the FCU and it went away. Continued on to destination.

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